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Spaghetti al cartoccio

This starter portion of pasta is perfect for entertaining as it can be prepared up to 6 hours in advance and finished off in the oven when required. We had this as a second course after broad bean bruschetta and followed by barbecued balsamic beef and then home-made ice cream and summer berry compote for dessert.

Wine Suggestion: lovely with a slightly chilled red, and naturally, given the inspiration from the food we’d suggest Italian. A light, lively, youthful and fruity Sangiovese hits the spot in the form of a Rocca delle Macie Chianti Vernaiolo given 30-40 minutes in the fridge before serving; chilled but not ice cold. The fresh acidity works perfectly with the fresh tomatoes and olives and the combination speaks to us of summer.

Pasta al Cartoccio – serves 4

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large clove of garlic, peeled and left whole
  • 450g ripe fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 red chilli, seeded and chopped
  • 280g dried spaghetti
  • 100g large black olives
  • a handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • grated Parmesan cheese, to serve

Cut 4 pieces of parchment paper, about 30x20cm.

Heat the oil in a saucepan over a medium heat, add the garlic and sauté for a couple of minutes. Remove the garlic, then add the tomatoes and chilli and season well. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring now and then.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200C/Gas 6/fan oven 180C.

Cook the spaghetti in salted water for half the time given on the pack, then drain well.

Add the olives and half the parsley to the tomato sauce and stir in the pasta. Taste and season to taste.

Divide the spaghetti between the pieces of paper, piling it into the middle of each. Scrunch the edges of each parcel  to seal tightly. Put the parcels in a roasting tin and bake for 7 minutes after which time the spaghetti should be al dente.

Remove the tin from the oven and transfer each parcel to a warm plate. Let everyone open their own parcels and sprinkle the spaghetti with the remaining parsley and some parmesan.

(Original recipe by Ursula Ferrigno in BBC Good Food, August 2001.)

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